227. Message From British Foreign Secretary Pym to Secretary of State Haig 1

Begins:

As you will realise, the proposals for an interim agreement on the Falkland Islands crisis, which you gave to Nicko Henderson last night,2 still fall short of the sort of agreement which the British Government would like to see, and would not be easy after all that has passed for us to defend publicly. The Cabinet has however considered your proposals against the background of all the issues involved and, because we share your strong desire to reach a negotiated settlement and to avoid further bloodshed, is prepared to accept the proposals as a basis for proceeding, subject to the following points.

The first point is that the proposals should be headed “Draft Interim Agreement on the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas”. This makes clear the scope of the agreement. The second change is to insert “all” before “forces” in point 2, so as to make clear that Argentina cannot leave any forces in the Falkland Islands. The third change concerns point 3(B). We would like this to be amended to say “administering the government of the Falkland Islands in the interim period in consultation with the elected representatives of the population of the Islands and ensuring that no actions are taken in the Islands which would concentrate3 this interim agreement, and”.

These are the only points which we want to make on the draft agreement itself. But there is an important practical point concerning [Page 477]the timetable for implementation of the agreement, which you also put to Nicko. There must be a specific moment of time when both parties state formally in writing to the US and Peruvian governments that they accept the agreement. The ceasefire can only take place after that moment, given Argentina’s unreliability and record in this crisis. Instructions for a ceasefire should be issued immediately after that moment, to come into effect as soon as both parties could guarantee compliance by their forces. For our part, we could accept an interval of 24 hours provided that Argentina could also undertake to abide by that. If you found it possible to shorten the timetable before an agreement is concluded in writing, we could support that.

You told Nicko last night that in your view the third point in the draft agreement incorporates a guarantee on the part of the United States of the non-reintroduction of Argentine forces into the Falkland Islands pending a definitive settlement. I should be most grateful if you could agree to send me a side letter to this effect, if and when the interim agreement is concluded. I suggest also that the need to deter Argentine re-invasion requires that the US should inform Argentina that such a letter has been sent.

I hope very much that Peru and Argentina will accept the proposals on the basis I have set out. Because of the danger that the Argentine response may be equivocal, like last time, the Cabinet feel strongly that (once you have got the Peruvians on board) Buenos Aires should be asked to signify acceptance by a precise and early deadline. If they fail to do so, or give any reply other than unqualified acceptance, they would be taken to have rejected the proposals and there would be no ceasefire.

Thank you again for all you are doing to end the present crisis.

Ends.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, Files of Alexander M. Haig, Jr., 1981–1982, Lot 82D370, No folder. UK Secret.
  2. See Document 222 and footnote 5 thereto.
  3. An unknown hand crossed out the word “concentrate” and substituted “contravene” above it.